It all started with a Shirley Temple.
My parents both loved cocktails, and every night for as long as I can remember my parents would have a drink before dinner. My Dad worked in Bridgeport and was always home by 6pm - so there was plenty of time to relax and make a drink. Life was much slower back then.
On special occasions we kids were treated to Shirley Temples in small etched glasses. Even at the age of four I knew this small glass made this drink a very special moment. I am pretty sure my obsession all started those Shirley Temples.
My Dad was very proud of his skills as a bartender. Over the years his bar became quite extensive - all the glassware and equipment was kept in the Butler's Pantry in a large cabinet that reached to the ceiling. Opening those two big cabinet doors revealed the craziest mix of glasses for any cocktail you could think of. In our house you were served your drink in the appropriate glass; tall thin cylinders for Tom Collins, elegant small coups for Brandy Alexanders, mugs for beer, the perfect glasses for scotch. There were special spoons, strainers, stirrers, straws and an eclectic ice crusher. My dad had one good bartender's book that was stained and spotted from use, one large shaker that mixed a thousand cocktails, and one measuring glass that was chipped and faded from years of use. It was all very no-nonsense and practical.
His drinks were delicious but he took forever making them. He would ask his guests what they wanted and he would retreat back to the bar with 6 different drinks to make. A lifetime later he would come back carrying a beautiful tray with each drink perfectly made, in the perfect glass. It never even occurred to us to ask him if he needed help - we just knew this was his thing.
We had a house cocktail, the Moscow Mule, decades before they became a fad.
These were carefully made in a copper mug, with lots of ice and fresh limes and were only served between Memorial Day and Labor Day; a custom most in my family still follow. I was allowed to try one at an indecently early age. I remember picking up the icy copper mug and smelling the ginger and lime. I knew this was going to be amazing. It would have been a different experience if it was not in the copper mug!
After my Dad passed away and my mother sold the house to me, we were faced with the daunting task of dismantling his bar. My mother took the basics and a large selection of glassware, and my siblings and I split up rest. I took the Tom Collins glasses, some cocktail glasses they got as wedding gifts, the Moscow Mule mugs, and a few other odds and ends.
My bar is in the same little room as his but I do not have the patience required to measure and stir like he did - however drinks at our house are always still served the proper glass just like Dad.
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